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Lions And Ivory | 2nd - 8th May 2016

Every week we hear more and more topics of news from the world of environment and conservation. It’s a ceaseless topic, never sleeping and always providing us with something new to get our teeth into.

In that spirit, we at frontier will now be doing a weekly roundup of the previous week’s environment stories. It’ll be stuff that’s interesting, heart-warming or just downright important. So, without further ado…

Ivory Trade Got Burned

The international black market trade in ivory is still prolific across the planet, particularly in South East Asia. However, as most sources of this mind bogglingly valuable substance come from central and southern Africa, that’s where most of the conservation efforts are focussed. Given the immense value of ivory and its location on the far less developed countries of central Africa, it would make sense for the people of that region to trade in order to improve their own financial security. Not so, however.

In Kenya last week, 105 tonnes of Elephant tusks and 1.5 tonnes of rhino horns were stacked in pyres and set ablaze. Each tusk and horn, which had been stockpiled by the Kenyan government for some years, had been confiscated by authorities due to the illegal poaching that took place to acquire them. In an effort then to show the world that both ivory and rhino horns are more valuable as part of the living, free and healthy animal, the government set their stockpile on fire. The move was designed to raise awareness of poaching worldwide, as the demand for these products hasn’t ceased in recent years. It said a lot that these supplies were ruined beyond any value and that the Kenyans meant what they said, as that stockpile was worth over $100m in total.

National Geographic | Charles Hamilton JamesThis sentiment was echoed by the director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kitili Mbathi, who spoke on the BBC’s Radio 4 saying that “we don’t believe that there ought to be any value should be attributed to ivory and rhino horn but on the elephants and rhinos.”

Elephant poaching numbers have been steadily high over recent years, bringing it to the forefront of the conservation consciousness. Incidents too of the British pilot who was killed by poachers during a helicopter patrol in Tanzania have also made elephant poaching one of the biggest topics in world environment and conservation.

Let’s hope that Kenya’s tough stand on the illegal ivory trade is more than just blowing smoke.

For the full story of the Kenya Ivory Burn follow the link.

33 Lifelong Circus Lions Retire To Africa

Animals are still used extensively in circuses across the globe, an issue that catches more than a few eyes and raises more than a few tempers among conservationists. Animals in captivity are never out of the news, with the likes of SeaWorld often making headlines.

There’s some good news though as 33 Lions who had lived their lives in captivity in a circus in Peru were transported nearly seven thousand miles to South Africa to retire. The mission to move them, dubbed ‘Operation Spirit of Freedom’, represents a major step forward in the fight against animals being used in circuses as it proves campaigning and awareness do indeed bring about results.

The Lions, many of whom bore the scars of many years of brutal treatment including teeth and claws forcibly removed, were taken to the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Vaalwater, South Africa, where they can live as natural a life as is possible for these animals. Unfortunately, due to their extensive captivity and abusing treatment, releasement back into the wild is impossible.

flickr | Devin WesthauseThe project to rescue the lions took over a year to pull off as, since circuses of this nature have been illegal in Peru since 2011, many have gone underground, making them difficult or even impossible to track down in order to rescue the animals.

At the sanctuary, the Lions are treated to more regular and more natural diets than they’ve ever experienced as well as veterinary care and, most notable, far more space and natural surroundings that they’re used to. These animals were always kept in cages, boxes and small enclosures, while they’re now permitted to roam the extent of the sanctuary in the open air.

Each animal was supposed to cost around $10,000 to bring back, a problem that was solved when generous donations from the public from around the world piled up until every single Lion was able to be rescued.

Follow the link for the full story on the 33 Rescued Lions.

Both of these stories are heart-warming in their own way, and both point out one crucial similarity. That is the collaboration of many individuals to make sometime happen. In Kenya, an entire country made a statement condemning the illegal poaching of one of its nation’s iconic animals. While in the case of the Lions, people from around the world contributed whatever they could to help save these animals from a lifetime of neglect. It speaks to an ongoing theme with conservation and environment that we read every week, and that’s a mentality of all for one and one for all.

By Guy Bezant - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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